Epistemic resourcefulness and the development of evaluative judgement


Developing Evaluative Judgement in Higher Education: Assessment for Knowing and Producing Quality Work, 1st Edition (Paperback) book coverWe wrote several new papers elaborating the idea of epistemic fluency. One of them is this chapter: Goodyear, P., & Markauskaite, L. (2018). Epistemic resourcefulness and the development of evaluative judgement. In D. Boud, R. Ajjawi, P. Dawson, & J. Tai (Eds.), Developing evaluative judgement in higher education: Assessment for knowing and producing quality work (pp. 28-38). London: Routledge.


“This chapter examines the development of evaluative judgement from a professional education perspective, with a focus on the abilities students need to deal with problems that are both complex and novel. Professional work regularly entails engaging in knowledgeable action in previously unencountered situations and formulating impromptu methods for making judgements about the adequacy of one’s actions. From this perspective, evaluative judgement is an epistemic (knowledge-creating) activity. We show how developing evaluative judgement can be understood as learning to play a range of epistemic games, and how epistemic resourcefulness enables one to frame complex judgements in principled ways.”

Extended overview

“Our chapter is primarily a contribution to the task of theorising evaluative judgement. While we believe that this has practical educational payoffs, which we outline in the final section of the chapter, we are also motivated by a curiosity about the kinds of work and capabilities that are involved in evaluative judgement – within and for professional action. In a nutshell, we argue in this chapter that evaluative judgement can be seen as an epistemic capability, useful in assessing one’s ability to engage in knowledgeable action in specific, dynamically changing situations. We draw on some of our recent empirical and theoretical research to show how a broad range of examples of professional knowledge work can be categorised within a taxonomy of epistemic games. The ability to recognise and participate in these games is a manifestation of epistemic fluency and we can think of the corresponding personal capabilities in terms of epistemic resourcefulness. We illustrate this approach to conceptualising evaluative judgement and its development, with a discussion of one particularly relevant kind of professional epistemic game: the evaluation game. From this base, we develop an argument about the need for evaluative judgement to be considered from a generative perspective. In rapidly changing and uncertain times, professionals cannot get by with methods and standards for assessing worth or quality that are carved in stone. Epistemic resourcefulness enables people to formulate novel, principled, approaches to the making of evaluative judgements.”

Quality multiplied: Learning that matters in a runaway world

The keynote for the OpenLearning Conference 2018 on the 27th November 2018, in Kuala Lumpur. It synthesises the main practical insights and implications for design of individual courses and education as a socio-technical system. The slides could be dowloaded here, the abstract  is below (Presented by Lina, but see the acknowledgements)

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 How can we help prepare students to solve wicked problems when nobody knows exactly what these problems will be, for jobs and professions that do not yet exist and for a society whose contours, as Anthony Giddens put it, ‘we can as yet only dimly see’?

For the last ten years, I have been researching how university students learn to integrate different kinds of knowledge and ways of knowing needed for innovative and skilful professional action in the world — how they develop a capability called ‘epistemic fluency’. Drawing on my studies and related innovations in my teaching, I will argue that education needs to go beyond the established notions of ‘learning as knowledge acquisition’ or ‘learning as participation’ and go beyond developing courses or shaping students’ experiences. Instead, it should focus on learning that enables students to re-imagine their future, co-assemble their own environments, and co-create actionable knowledge that runs away outside the educational institutions. This is a risky business that requires openness to the world in which the students will live, in fact, to the world which they will co-create.

Universities and other educational institutions have skin in this game. They need courage and wisdom to move beyond their secure ‘industrial’ methods for assuring educational quality, and embrace a greater diversity of ways in which they teach and produce socially valuable knowledge.

Assessment as boundary work: between the discipline and the profession

We added to our slideware a set of slides from a half-day workshop entitled “Assessment as boundary work: between the discipline and the profession” that we facilitated last year at Deakin University.

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This workshop is for academics, learning designers and academic leaders who work with developing assessment tasks across the spectrum of work integrated learning initiatives. Participants are asked to come with an assessment task that they have used, or plan to use, for students preparing for, or reflecting on, a work placement, practicum or simulated work experience. The workshop will explore how these types of assessment tasks create a dialogue at the boundary between academic discipline knowledge and the reflexive knowledge of a skilled practitioner. Peter and Lina will draw on their recent work on epistemic fluency to introduce the workshop. They have analysed a range of assessment task designs in a variety of professional education contexts to try to identify the multiple forms of knowledge and ways of knowing with which students have to become fluent in preparing for professional practice. Many aspects of professional work involve the creation of new understandings – such as in inter-professional dialogues or client consultations. Often this epistemic work goes unnoticed, though sometimes it involves conscious problem-solving and innovation. The workshop will be a hands-on investigation of how these ideas about epistemic fluency, knowledge work and actionable knowledge can be applied in designing better assessment tasks.

Learning to co-create actionable knowledge across disciplinary and professional boundaries

We added to our slideware a set of slides from the recent talk “Learning to co-create actionable knowledge across disciplinary and professional boundaries” presented in Sydney.Concepts.Westmead.

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Universities should take stronger leadership on knowledge and how it matters

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Through their commitments to, and dependence on, professional education and multidisciplinary research, universities have skin in the epistemic game.

This is a longer read. Enjoy!

If reports in the media can be trusted, then “knowing” isn’t what it used to be. It seems that we are all caught in a rip, being swept helplessly from a knowledge-based world into a post-truth society, where robots will take all the best jobs.

The latest edition of the Innovating Pedagogy report, published annually by the UK’s Open University, names “epistemic education” as one of the “high impact” trends that will become widespread in education over the next two to five years.

Simultaneously, the Merriam-Webster dictionary’s Trend watch list is topped by the word “epistemic”. Something is going on here, but is it just a flash in the pan? An educational fad feeding off a moral panic about fake news, alternative facts and information bubbles?

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